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     I recently heard Beth Moore teach on Exodus 15, where, directly after God had destroyed the army of Pharaoh in the Red Sea, Miriam, the sister of Moses, in an outburst of praise, "took a tambourine and led all the women of Israel in rhythm and dance."  Moore said that since the Bible tells us that the people had left Egypt in haste, she thought it a bit strange that one of the things that would be brought would be a tambourine.  She thought that perhaps Miriam believed that at some point in the journey, a tambourine, an instrument of praise, would be needed. Moore said that "When faith goes on a journey, it takes a tambourine."  
    This is a beautiful statement, but I think it falls a little short of where the role of joy, thanksgiving and praise come in the journey of faith.  I don't think that Moore actually meant it, but her statement can leave one thinking that the role of praise and thanksgiving comes after God has done something, something we've been expecting, something we would call "good."  To live by faith is to live in expectation, but the question then arises as to what it is we are expecting?  Is our expectation in something we believe and expect that God is going to do, an expectation that is formed in and by us, or, is our expectation in Him alone?  Are our expectations and resulting praise and thanksgiving that come with them, dependent on God doing all that we want Him to do, on what He does, or are they in Him, in who He is?  If they're in what we believe He's going to do, then what happens if He doesn't do it?  Can we still praise Him?  Can we be thankful, joyous, trusting?  Can we still "play" our tambourines in the desert, even when the desert looks the same as it did yesterday, and gives every indication of looking the same tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that, and the day........?  Can we live in such a state even when it appears He's forgotten us, even forsaken us?  If we live a blessing, results oriented life, it's unlikely that we can.  Our faith and joy is based on what He does.  If we live a life based on Him as the source of all life, than what is happening or not happening can't touch our joy, thanksgiving and praise.  We can play our tambourines in the deepest darkness and the rockiest wilderness.
     Too many of us have spiritual lives that are dependent on what He is or is not doing.  Our spiritual strength is determined by how well life, relationships, jobs, ministries are going.  When they go well, "God is good," but how many of us say this with meaning when they aren't?  In the journey of faith, the Father calls us to a deeper place of joy, praise and thanksgiving.  A place that is determined not by what He is or isn't doing, but by who and what He is.  It brings a tambourine, and doesn't wait for something good to happen to use it, but uses it in every place.  It knows that God is good all the time, and trusts the Father to define just what good is.  The result is a life of praise and thanksgiving, and best of all, rest.  Faith brings a tambourine, but it's never packed away.  It's always in hand, heard in all places.  We're on a journey with Him.  Where's our tambourine?

Blessings,
Pastor O
 
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